The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Orhpan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 
Publication Date: March 10th, 2015
Pages: 391
Song I Played While Reading: Fine by Me by Chris Brown
Rating: 5 stars

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland. Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom's capitol. Ten years later they are the Ospreys, expert at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.
She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of novels from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie's behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can't trust anyone. 
She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh hours. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina's magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil's magic, she will vanish like the others. 

I read a lot of mixed reviews on The Orphan Queen. Some people said it was fantastic and original, rating it five stars. Others said it was just like any other fantasy novel, with nothing interesting cropping up and everything blending together with no spark. I felt this way about the first half of the book; you've got your protagonist, Wilhelmina, an heir to a throne that was brutally taken from her as a young child. Her entire kingdom was overtaken, her parents killed, and she was sent away. Now, she fights alongside the other royal children, all orphaned, to regain her throne. How many times have we heard that in a fantasy novel? Tons of times.
Usually, that doesn't bother me. Of course fantasy novels are going to sometimes sound the same; everything is based off of something. It's what the author takes from that inspiration, and what he or she does with it, that makes the book special. You need that spark. And I found it, after pushing through the first half of the book. Oh man, did I find it.
Wilhelmina is an extremely easy character to like, almost to the point where, when you first meet her, she has no defining qualities. It takes a while for you to really get the full picture, to see what Wil is really like. She's incredibly strong-willed, ambitious, kind, thoughtful, and patient. She's willing to do whatever it takes to get back her kingdom, but only to a point. That's something that I really admired about her. You always see these characters willing to do anything for a cause, even something that they personally don't enjoy doing or think is right. But they push through, thinking that it's only a means to an end. They only have to do this for a certain period of time, and than once they succeed, it all stops. But Wil isn't like that, and as she grows into herself and her beliefs, she realizes what she is, and isn't, willing to do for her kingdom. She actually thinks about herself and what it would do to her emotionally, and that's really something that stood out. I personally think it's better to acquire something that also doesn't fuck you up inside.
I think something that really helped push me into the story was Black Knife, Mr. Vigilante. I can't say much on his character without spoiling some things, but MY GOD. YES. I'M SOLD. 100%. MEADOWS FUCKED ME UP WITH HIS IDENTITY, ABSOLUTELY SLAUGHTERED ME.
Wanna know what else slaughtered me? The ending. Holy CLIFF HANGER! Literally, I've never read an ending that left me gasping as hard as The Orphan Queen did. I was appalled because how could she? HOW?!!?!?!?!?! 
The plot was incredible, and I loved learning about this world. It was so incredibly easy to understand, and I found the idea behind the wraith to be SO cool. That was something I've never really seen before in a fantasy novel (cue round of applause) and that part at the end where Wil used her power on it? I CANT EVEN DESCRIBE MY FEELINGS ON IT. I was screaming my head off because that added a whole different level of intrigue to this storyline. I mean seriously, way to fucking hook a reader in. That is a prime example of hook, line, and clincher. All rolled into one stunning conclusion.
I'm trying so hard not to spoil you guys, but if you've read it, I'm hoping you understand. If you haven't, please let this be the kick in the ass to pick up The Orphan Queen. It's a duology, which I didn't realize until I read the summary of The Mirror King. You don't even want to know what kind of noises came out of my mouth when I learned that. They were horrendous. I'm screaming with joy and fear over having a copy of it. PRAY I SURVIVE IT. PRAY.

"Well." He gave an exaggerated sigh and spun me. My gown flared, a desert of silk at my feet. "I bare a great burden. As Tobiah's bodyguard and best friend, I know all his worst faults.
Best friend? That made me doubly glad I'd concealed my real feelings. "You do know how to keep a lady in suspense."
He grinned. "Prepare to be scandalized. The prince is a terrible swordsman. He sleeps through breakfast almost every day. And once I saw him chew with is mouth open."
"Just the once, though?"
"He was ten."
I nodded solemnly. "I see. These are unforgivable offense and I'm deeply scandalized."
A smile lit his eyes. "At last, I'm not the only one to see his true nature."
"And now he has a finance. What will she do when she discovers the dark truths? Didn't you warn her?"
"The fair duchess would not be swayed from her decision to accept his proposal. No matter how often I complimented her beauty, she still choose him. Ah, to be a prince." He pressed his hand to his heart."

"The pain of what happened- it won't last for eternity."
A lie. I knew very well how pain could last, and fester, and shape a person in unnameable ways."

"You're so optimistic. It's not what I expected from a vigilante who calls himself Black Knife."
"Well, I considered Optimistic Knife, but I didn't think anyone would take it seriously."

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